‘The Last War Crime’ Debuts at Cannes–but Censored in US.
CURRENT AFFAIRS, 16 Jul 2012
During this summer of Occupy and subsequent police brutality, the subject of torture is hotly denounced by protesters and conveniently ignored by candidates. Like that ostrich diving head first into the sand of political expediency–Americans want to focus on the alleged debt crisis or gay marriage–anything that absolves us from the messy subject of tortures committed in our names by the Bush/Cheney administration and which continue under Obama to the present day. The entire Bradley Manning debacle speaks volumes to this accusation.
In spite of strong evidence identifying Dick Cheney as the mastermind behind this torture regime–the subject remains taboo, both in the ‘news’ business and in Hollywood–that is until Hollywood executives watched trailers for the anti-war documentary–The Last War Crime.
Written, produced and directed by a new talent known only as ‘The Pen,’ this film documents the torture protocol ordained by the Bush-Cheney administration. Since it first circulated a trailer on the web; it has been heavily censored and cyber attacked. You Tube has removed it at intermittent intervals and MTV (which is owned by Viacom) has refused to sell air time for a commercial.
Apparently, there are some things that Viacom won’t accept money for—namely any film or story which exposes the regular torture ordered by Vice-President Cheney. Curious about this documentary and the blatant censorship–(I couldn’t download it)–I contacted the artist aka The Pen. Here is the interview.
JM : What are you hoping this film will accomplish in terms of genuine political change?
The Pen:” The Last War Crime Movie is about indicting Cheney for torture. And isn’t that something billions of people want to see? They say sometimes life can imitate art. But first we felt it was important that we retrace our country’s steps as to how torture was used to get the false intelligence to sell us on a war with Iraq. The real story of how this happened has been buried under an avalanche of pseudo history. They want people to forget the Downing Street minutes and the foreknowledge that the British had that Cheney and Bush were determined to invade Iraq, even if they had to “fix the facts around the policy” to do so. They want to obliterate the memory of the flimsy legal arguments in the torture memos. So we dig out all the true facts, and put them on the big screen, together with an entertaining narrative story about what it would have been like if justice had already prevailed.
The people who committed these war crimes believe they can escape accountability by changing the way people think, by selling the American people on the idea that torture was a great thing that got us wonderful intelligence to protect us. But the only people making these arguments are the torturers themselves and their propaganda advocates. All other percipient witnesses confirm the opposite, which we knew already, that torture does not even work, and that any actionable intelligence they got was obtained before they started torturing people. So part of the mission of this movie is to counter their ongoing lies initiative, to change the way people think back to the truth, and then we can have good policy change, which is political change.
JM : Do you expect more interference, and if so–in what form?
The Pen: Based on what we have run into already, the attempted YouTube censorship (which we forced them to reverse after more than 7,000 direct protests), the rejection of the ad submitted to MTV (Viacom Inc.), it is clear that we are encountering serious censorship interference from the very beginning. Obviously we are telling a story that certain people don’t want heard. The American people believe that we have free speech. It was on that justification that the Supreme Court said in the Citizens United decision that the gloves were off, and that corporations with unlimited war chests should be permitted to flood our political process with money favoring their point of view. But now we see that the other side of that bargain was a fraud, that these same corporations believe they can discriminate against points of view they disagree with. So for the actual people, we find that even if we have the money, we cannot even BUY “free” speech.
This is not a tolerable situation. Must we generate thousands of protests every time we want to run an ad when it is rejected for political reasons? Already Viacom has received over 12,000 protest messages in response to our call to action there, and in that situation apparently they think “we the people” can just be ignored. We are seriously considering a federal lawsuit, the argument has to be made, that if they accept political advertising of any kind, at least in that case, it must be some kind of 14th Amendment equal protection violation to practice what we would call “speech discrimination”. Only by bringing such a case can we determine if we actually have free speech or not.
JM: Has there been any direct retaliation or threats connected with the release of this film aimed at you? Any suspected retaliation?
The Pen: Gandhi is reputed to have said, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win”. At this point we are still mostly at the attempted “ignore you” stage.
JM: What has Hollywood’s reaction been to this film’s coming debut? Are you encountering the same kind of cowardice that Michael Moore experienced after his Oscar night comments about the war?
The Pen: We are just starting to get the word out about this film. The censorship attempts are doomed to fail, but we still don’t have enough visibility to where the rest of the Hollywood film community would be called on to react. It would not surprise me if some of the censorship we’ve been talking about was based in part on cowardice. Of course we all remember when Michael Moore called out the fiction of the basis for the war in Iraq at the Oscars. But in that case another reasonable possible explanation is that those who booed him then would object to any attempt to politicize the Academy Awards ceremony. The problem is that when you say you don’t want to hear about this political issue here, and you don’t want to hear about it there, you may end up with the dynamic we are confronting now with The Last War Crime movie, that the corporations that dominate our media really don’t want these issues talked about anywhere.
JM: Anything else you would want to add?
The Pen: “The soul of America is on trial right now. We have thrown not just international law overboard, we have repudiated our own long established law. We have always considered waterboarding to be torture. We have always prosecuted waterboarding in the past as torture. So what’s the difference now, that the war criminals have a big “R” after their names? We are called by history, the real history, to stand up and speak out about this, to bring America back to its highest calling. So if your readers are interested in participating in the Viacom action they can go to , where you can also see the ad that MTV rejected. And there is a Facebook page where we are posting video clips, still shots from the movie, including behind the scenes shots, and more on a daily basis, so you can follow our progress and help get this movie out in real theaters where it belongs and deserves to be.”
It should be noted that as of May 22nd, 2012, The Last War Crime was presented at the Cannes Film Festival. There was no refusal to air the film, no censorship–corporate or otherwise. Apparently the independent artistic community in Cannes and similar venues knows something that evades the vapid corporate offices of Hollywood.
Jeanine Molloff is a veteran urban educator specializing in communications disorders. She has published with Huffington Post, OpEdNews, FireDogLake, Counterpunch and Huffington Post Union of Bloggers. In an era of state and corporate sanctioned censorship, she believes that journalism which demands answers to the tough questions is the last remaining bulwark of democracy.
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